Saturday, October 21, 2023

How We Know That the Promised Restoration of Israel Has Not Taken Place

by James C. Morris – 

Many imagine that the many scriptures that promised the return of Israel to its ancient homeland were fulfilled in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. But that is manifestly incorrect. Each of the following numbered points proves it, in and by itself. But their cumulative proof is simply overwhelming

Point 1:

The return that took place at that time included only the southern sub-kingdom of Judah. For according to Nehemiah 6:6, those who returned at that time were those “whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.” And according to 2 Kings 17:6, the northern sub-kingdom of Israel had been carried away by “the king of Assyria.” And according to the chronology of Ussher, this had taken place 130 years earlier than the deportation made by Nebuchadnezzar. The number of those who returned at that time was clearly stated in Nehemiah 7:66–69 saying, “Altogether the whole assembly was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty, besides their male and female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; and they had two hundred and forty-five men and women singers.” That was a total of only forty-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety two persons. But 2 Chronicles 17:12-19 informs us that, in the days of Jehoshaphat, the army of Judah included one million, one hundred and sixty thousand men, to say nothing of the men that were not in the army, and women and children. So the return from Babylon included less than a half of one percent of Judah, and did not include Israel at all. But the promised return was a return of absolutely all of Israel. For in Micah 2:12, the Lord said:

I will surely assemble all of you,

O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel;

I will put them together like sheep of the fold,

Like a flock in the midst of their pasture;

They shall make a loud noise because of so many people.”

And in Ezekiel 36:10, the Lord promised the “mountains of Israel,” along with “the hills, the rivers, the valleys, the desolate wastes, and the cities that have been forsaken,” (verse 4) that “I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it.” Here, the Holy Spirit doubled the Hebrew word “kol” which translates literally as “all,” literally saying “all all of the house of Israel.”

So the return of less than a half of a percent of Judah was most assuredly NOT a fulfillment of these promises.

Point 2:

The Lord very explicitly promised Israel that, after the promised return, they would never again be expelled from the land, saying,“Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land... Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever.” (Ezekiel 37:21 and 25)

The fact that they were again expelled from the land around the year 135 AD, and never returned in any significant numbers until the twentieth century is HARD PROOF that this prophecy was NOT fulfilled in the return that took place in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Point 3:

The purging of Israel that was explicitly prophesied has never taken place. For Ezekiel 20:33-38 clearly describes a purging of the rebels from among the people as they return to the land, saying: “‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you FACE TO FACE. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I WILL BRING THEM OUT OF THE COUNTRY WHERE THEY DWELL, BUT THEY SHALL NOT ENTER THE LAND OF ISRAEL. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’ ”

There can be zero question that there has never been a time when those returning to the land of Israel were met by the Lord FACE TO FACE after having been brought OUT OF THE COUNTRY WHERE THEY DWELL, but not allowed to ENTER THE LAND OF ISRAEL.

So the fact that this explicitly prophesied purging has never taken place is HARD PROOF that the prophesied return was NOT fulfilled by the return that took place in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Point 4:

The promised COMPLETE conversion of Israel has never taken place. Some Israelites have indeed been converted. But there has never been a time when they were ALL converted.

Zechariah 12:11-14, says, “In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.”

This result of this mass repentance is described in Isaiah 4:3-4 saying, “it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy; everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.”

And again Jeremiah 31:33-34 says, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

There is no way to even pretend that a mass conversion that even resembled this took place in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Instead, we are repeatedly told about the widespread sinfulness of both the people and their leaders in the times of Nehemiah.

Point 5:

The specific boundaries of the land, and its division, promised in Ezekiel 47-48, have never existed.

In Ezekiel 47:13-20, the future borders of the land are specified in such high detail that, even to this day, it is possible to draw a map of the future Israel. And there is no way to even pretend that Israel has ever had borders even approximately corresponding to those specified there.

And in Ezekiel 48, we are told in high detail how that PLOT OF REAL ESTATE will be divided among the twelve tribes of Israel. And there is no way to even pretend that the land of Israel was EVER divided in that way.

So these EXPLICITLY STATED geographical details of the future Israel are HARD PROOF that they were NOT fulfilled in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Point 6:

A FUTURE restoration of Israel was clearly promised in the inspired writings of the apostles.

In Romans 9:3-5, Paul said, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”

Here, long after the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, “the promises” still pertained to Paul’s “brethren,” his “countrymen according to the flesh.” The words “according to the flesh” make it absolutely clear that this was speaking about the fleshly nation of Israel, not about some imaginary “spiritual Israel.” This leaves no logical way to avoid the fact that, at the time the epistle to the Romans was written, “the promises” still pertained to the fleshly nation of Israel. That is, to the physical descendants of that ancient nation.

And in Romans 9:26, Paul quoted Hosea 1:10 as still applying to the future, saying, “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

And then, two chapters later, Paul clearly stated the reason for this, saying about the unbelieving Jews, “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are IRREVOCABLE.” (Romans 11:28-29)

So, even in the apostolic writings of the New Testament, The promised restoration of Israel is clearly spoken of as something that would take place in the future. This is again, HARD PROOF that the return that took place in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah was NOT the return of all Israel that was promised in so many places in the prophetic scriptures.

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